Movie Review: Pirates 5 Sinks to New Lows

Movie Review: Pirates 5 Sinks to New Lows
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Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. He is a graduate of Journalism from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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There aren’t many film series where a fifth installment is anything more than a desperate grab at the audience’s wallet. But Disney’s latest seafaring extravaganza Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is no different. Both swashbuckling and shallow, it’s tediously boring. Even by a pirate’s low standards.

Completely devoid of any sincere enthusiasm and originality, it’s sad something this grand and expensive was even made – though it’s clear the effort has half-hearted. The studio executives could have called it Pirates 5: Jack Sparrow Goes to the Dentist. It would sell just as many tickets, and the title would carry the same profundity. And fewer moviegoers would be disappointed.

But the subtitle “Dead Men Tell No Tales” is just an irritating schtick for one line in the story. It’s actually a reference to a famous line from the Disneyland ride the first film was based on. There’s no connection in this title to the plot.

It shows how unaware the producers are of how low the audience interest actually is. They’re counting on some people being so lazy that an ominous slogan will convince them to buy a ticket. And some sadly will, though I strongly recommend you resist the temptation.

If you’ve seen any of the advertising, almost every dramatic or interesting thing in the movie has been spoiled in advance. Pirates 5 is also remarkably similar to the other Pirates movies. More notably, there are several parallels to the more recent Pirates of the Caribbean sequels.

DMTNT as slow and overlong as Dead Men’s Chest. It’s as confusing as At World’s End. It’s as unimportant and sleazy as On Stranger Tides. But if you haven’t seen any of them, it’ll be just as easy to predict what will happen next. The story is like a preschooler following a recipe in a cooking class.

Photo: Buena Vista Pictures.

And what about Jack Sparrow, you may ask? Johnny Depp returns in an unsurprising performance as the debonair captain. It’s hard to believe he was nominated for an Oscar in 2003 for this role. The screenwriters nowadays have obliterated Depp’s iconic character into the laziest personality of any modern blockbuster.


The noticeably weird change is Jack Sparrow’s no longer the main character. Instead, a shrill new teenage voyageur (Brenton Thwaites) takes the wheel. The entire plot is him tracking pirates to find treasure, save a relative, and defeat a less charismatic pirate than Jack. (In other words, the same business as the first four movies.)

What isn’t different is the visually breathtaking Caribbean sets and exotic locales. There’s plenty of exciting production value, and it’s an exciting design for sure. Even the 3D is very high quality. Anyone looking for pointless thrills will guiltlessly cash in on Disney’s generous bankrolling.

It’s hard to decide who the target audience for the movie is supposed to be. It’s too silly and preposterous for adults, as Jack Sparrow impossibly avoids death every 15 minutes. But this adventure is way too scary and violent for children. Kids shouldn’t be watching scenes of ghosts brutally murdering men and drunk pirates pulling people’s toenails off.

Most people, I think, will be glad the Pirates series will be finally finished. Hopefully, this really is the end as the marketing claims. This installment’s idea and premise show how severe the franchise fatigue has infected the once-charming idea of a high-seas adventure.

For now, I can’t think of a more tiresome way of spending two and a half hours than arching your eyebrows through the latest POTC. Waterlogged and weighed down, what these pirates really represent is an abundance of wasted talent.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
1 1/2 out of 4 stars

PG, 129 minutes. Fantasy Adventure.
Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg.
Starring Brenton Thwaites, Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem and Geoffrey Rush.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill, and Cineplex Oakville & VIP. Also in IMAX and IMAX 3D.


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